Corporate Consequences of Unchecked Porn Use

Here are 11 frightening snapshots of how pornography left unchecked will weaken your church

“Pornography causes us to see others as objects. If this goes unchecked it will turn the common church lobby into a college nightclub. We’ll lose the ability to rightly relate to those we’re called to love and serve. A brother or sister will be seen as a temptation to be avoided or an object to be ogled.”

 

In his 2015 book How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, Steven Johnson shows the cascading consequences of ideas. 9Marks readers will remember, for example, Gutenberg’s contribution for the purposes of the Protestant Reformation. But what you may not know is that the printing press—by putting books under tens of thousands of noses—also helped people realize they were farsighted, which led to manipulating discs of glass for corrective eyewear, which led to making more powerful lenses that could look up into space or down into cells. Thus, moveable type started a chain reaction that helped people clearly see the gospel but also germs and galaxies.

As we consider pornography in this 9Marks Journal, it would be beneficial for us to ponder such chain reactions in the church. If pornography goes unchecked in your church, what threads might the next generation trace back as they’re cleaning up a huge mess and asking, “How did we get here?”

It’s not difficult to discern the consequences on individuals when pornography is unchecked: formidable addiction, haunting shame, calloused consciences, disturbing hypocrisy, and relational selfishness all run rampant? Yet beyond that, here are 11 frightening snapshots of how pornography left unchecked will weaken your church. Note that these aren’t in and of themselves reasons porn should be avoided. We want to kill sin because we love Jesus, not because we want more missionaries in the field. But we should still be aware of these wide-ranging corporate consequences.

(1) It will weaken church leadership.

There will simply be fewer pastors, first and foremost, because if unchecked porn use plagues the ranks of the overseer then men will find themselves quickly disqualified. But, second and perhaps more likely, there will be fewer young men raised up as future elders who meet the biblical qualifications of being above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, respectable, upright, holy, disciplined, and outside the charge of debauchery (1 Tim 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9).

(2) It will weaken leadership capital.

This point is less obvious than the previous one, but it will exist nonetheless in a church with unchecked porn use. There will be fewer leaders, but even among the leaders who remain it may be assumed that they have scandalous skeletons in the closet as well. When a church isn’t characterized by a culture of confessing and repenting of sin and clinging to the gospel, it will cast doubt in the minds of many as to whether anyone is actually qualified to preach, lead, and shepherd.

(3) It will weaken service in the church.

In the same way that there will be fewer elders, there will also be fewer deacons who must hold to the faith with a clear conscience (Titus 1:9). But it will run even deeper than that: many will be unwilling to serve. Why? Because serving others involves selflessness and considering others as more important than self. Those ensnared by unchecked porn use, however, will be primarily self-focused, leaving little room for serving others. Additionally, others will be sidelined from service because overwhelming guilt will leave them too ashamed or simply unqualified.

(4) It will weaken the mission of the church.

There will be fewer missionaries, fewer evangelists, fewer church planters, and fewer involved in training and theological education. And that’s if the normal candidates put themselves on the shelf. If they don’t, then there will be propagators peddling a gospel that they themselves aren’t currently cherishing, which will likewise weaken the mission of the church.

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